Sunday, March 01, 2015

Meat market

So I was walking to my car this morning - it was 3/4 to 1 mile away, thanks to the fact that there's no off-street parking in this neighborhood.

I don't like walking around here alone, ever. Buts it's broad daylight, and I wanted a bacon egg and cheese biscuit. Sometimes it's a sacrifice.

I noticed a Honda Civic had driven past me twice, which is kind of weird, but everything here is weird, so I clutched my pepper spray a little closer and started paying more attention.

The Civic came by again, this time slowing as it turned into the street behind me, and someone yelled an animal-sounding growl out of the window.

At this point, it was clear that the car was circling ME, not the block. So, um, let me set the scene for you: I was out until after 2 a.m. I have mascara all over my face. I have the puffy, too many beers effect on my face. I'm literally wearing Nigel's jacket, which is frumpy on me and too big. Long story short, I do NOT look good. Like, not even a little bit.

After a fourth time seeing the Civic circle back to drive past me, I started getting pissed off. Living here, I've been solicited for prostitution just walking to my car. I've been cat-called and approached by countless people, and that's not even counting the homeless ones who ask for money or booze every fucking day. What happened this morning is not uncommon, but it's scary every time.

Finally, I got to a more public area by a car wash, with people everywhere, so I figured I was out of the woods. Safety in numbers, and all that.

I crossed PCH and got into my car, only to see the Civic pulling right the fuck up to my window (which is stuck down because of some electrical failure in the door that I swear I'm going to have fixed at some point), and I looked away, hoping the driver would just...drive.

"S'cuse me, I don't mean no disrespect..."

I glared at him. No disrespect? He just stalked me for fifteen minutes. I was on foot, he was in a car.

"Do you have a name?"

Which, first of all, is the lamest pickup line in the world. No, sir. I do not have a name. Nobody calls me anything, ever. On my social security card, it just says, "______________." Fucking idiot.

"I'm engaged," was all I could think to say, and he repeated that he meant no disrespect, and drove away.

I was shaking, I was so mad. What in the hell did he expect to happen, best-case scenario? Would I be flattered that he took the time to drive around several blocks in circles, over and over again, trying to scare the fuck out of me? Would I think him so handsome that I'd hop in his car and ride off into the afternoon marine layer?

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS SHIT. And I hate this neighborhood.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Smelling salts

I've been working my way around to blogging again. It's taken a hell of a lot of reading on my part. The more I read, the more I'm inspired to write great works of literary perfection, and this dusty little corner of the Internet is my best replacement for that inspiration.

I've got ideas for a really awesome novel in my head, and those ideas end up on scraps of Word docs because I'm really just a lazy motherfucker. However, I can squeeze out a post here every now and again, try to get my skills sharp again after months of rusting in the brutal California sunshine that passes for a winter.

Back in October - I think it was the 17th - I took a smoke break with a couple of my work friends. We walked out to the public sidewalk in order to abide by the "non-smoking" campus bullshit, and then we crossed the little cul-de-sac to the other sidewalk because we didn't want to stand in direct sunlight.

It was a normal work day: I wrapped up the quarter-end tax process the day before (if you're wondering, that process is HELL ON WHEELS that lasts almost 3 weeks every quarter), I woke up exhausted, dreading the prospect of returning to that soul-crushing establishment, drinking a huge Redbull. Totally normal day for me. I think it was my second smoke break of the day, as I was totally phoning it in, waiting for death or the clock to release me from the tedium and misery.

Turns out death was feeling frisky, more so than the passage of time, because that's when something really bizarre happened.

I don't know any of this first-hand because I just...stopped knowing. Like a light switch turned off in my brain, or like I was a robot and someone powered me down. I was "gone" during what followed.

According to my work friends, I took a couple of odd looking steps and began shooting my pointer fingers at the sky, as if killing invisible birds.  They thought I'd started in on some dumb little joke that would be explained momentarily, or maybe that the stress of my job had literally driven me insane.

Then I hit the sidewalk.

(I know that I hit my head on that sidewalk pretty damn hard because of the bruise and big knot that hung around for a few days. Yet another concussion to add to my impressive resume of brain injuries!)

I was convulsing and spit was flopping out of the side of my mouth where I lay. My female friend recognized what was happening as a seizure. There was a short debate about who would stay with me and who would go call an ambulance, and since the male friend didn't know what to do with me, he sprinted back to the security desk and had them call. (The security guard completely jacked that up, by the way, and sent the ambulance to the other side of the campus, while also telling them I passed out, but telling them in such a way that when the police arrived, they approached me with a breathalyzer, convinced I was hammered instead of having a medical emergency).

During the time after the seizure passed, I sat up. I tried to talk to my friend and the police and rescue workers. I was awake. I remember none of it. It's like I was black-out drunk without any of the fun buzz before hand.

Eventually, they loaded me into an ambulance. THAT is when I start to KIND OF remember some things. I remember sitting on the gurney in the back of the vehicle, which was still parked, and looking out to see one of my supervisors staring at me.

"Shit. I must have stayed on break too long. That's the one who doesn't like me." That was my first thought.

Then I realized there were other people looking at me, and then I started to wonder where I was. What day was it? What was happening? Why was I in someone's car? Whose car was I in? Wait, why are there EMTs here? Holy shit, am I in an AMBULANCE?!

All of these thoughts occurred to me, but they surfaced very slowly, as if they were fighting their way out of a crazy-thick fog and their headlights weren't quite bright enough to let me see them clearly.

Then I realized that I was thirsty.

No, that's not right. I realized that I was going to die if I didn't get water immediately.

It was a level of cotton mouth that only prolific burnouts may understand - I began to choke and my throat was closing as I begged for water, which the EMTs refused to give me. I'm sure there's a medical reason for not giving me water, but at that moment, I thought they were going to be responsible for my death.

I panicked like I've never done before, and then I began to cry weakly, and one of them tried to coach me in breathing exercises.

I don't really remember getting to the hospital, and I don't remember much of what happened the first few hours after I arrived. I must have changed into a gown at some point, because I was in a gown. My work friend brought my purse to me from the office, and handled the incoming calls from Nigel on my cell (which obviously I wasn't answering) to let him know I was okay.

By that point, the HR department of my office had called both emergency contacts: Nigel and my parents, who happened to be closer and arrived faster than Nigel. Poor guy just arrived at a band rehearsal way up in Bel Aire when he got the call, so had to turn right back around and drive twice as far in the other direction.

Meanwhile, I was still really out of it. I got ice chips (THANK GOD) and therefore did not thirst to death, but doctors asked a lot of questions I was only able to answer with considerable effort: What day is it? Who is the president? What is your name?

After many hours in the ER (including another CT scan to add to my collection), the genius medical community was able to say that I had a seizure.

NO SHIT. What would we all do without that kind of brilliant deduction?

The charge doctor scared my parents and Nigel badly enough with threads of revoked drivers licenses and recurrence of symptoms that they convinced me to be admitted for observation overnight, a decision I wish I had not made, because it did no good and accomplished nothing, but it did cost me many thousands of dollars. (Wait, I got an EEG and an MRI out of it, too). ((Oh, and I got to listed to an old man scream and moan for 12 straight hours while trying to sleep. That was awesome, and didn't add any stress to my ordeal.))

They said it was probably just a fluke and I'd be fine, that I should follow up with a neurologist on my own.

Since then, I have gone to the neurologist a couple of times. The first time, that doctor agreed it was probably stress and a one-off incident.

A few weeks later when I started feeling really "off," I wasn't so sure. I'd be sitting at work, and suddenly fire would shoot into my chest and my vision would dim, I'd get extremely dizzy and feel like I was either going to flop around in another glorious seizure, or at least pass out and make a fool of myself, thus prompting another ambulance call that I couldn't afford, nor be entirely sure I'd be AWAKE to refuse the treatment.

I went back to the neurologist, and based on my history of brain injuries and concussions, in addition to my current symptoms, she said it was likely I had epilepsy (the kind you earn with clumsiness, not the kind you're born with). She put me on a powerful anti-seizure medication that I'd taken before during the 2010 Brain Pain recovery.

She also said that it could be entirely due to stress, and that the current symptoms sounded a hell of a lot like panic attacks. Sure, I had a bonafide episode in October, but I didn't have any symptoms or warnings when that happened. They might be related, but not exactly the same.

It kept happening, and only at work (well, once in the car, but LA traffic is nothing if not stressful). Eventually, when compounded with my pure hatred for my job and the profound distaste for everything related to the corporation who employed me, I quit.

I did it in the way that teenagers quit jobs, not in the way that professional adults give proper notice and get a shitty little grocery store cake and fake well-wishes on their last day. I composed an email to my boss with very specific reasons for not returning - ever - concern for my health being the biggest, and I saved the email as a draft. When I woke up in the morning, I would either decide to hit send, or I'd shove off to work like I had every other day.

I hit send.

And the symptoms completely went away. Even through starting a new job with lots of moving parts, challenges, and the general chaos that goes with training for a new position in accounting. My commute is way longer, my hours are longer, and the job is more fun. I don't hate waking up for work anymore, and my brain seems to appreciate the break.

Until yesterday, my 7th week at the new job, when literally out of nowhere, it felt like someone shoved a metal BBQ skewer into the upper right side of my chest, and the air all leaked out. I think I actually said out loud, "What the hell just happened?"

Then my vision went dark again, and I tried to stay calm because panicking tends to make it worse. I realized I needed to let someone know what was going on so that they wouldn't call an ambulance if I seized up or fainted or whatever, so I tried to get some words out across the cubicle.

Fortunately, one of my mentors was sitting there and she came over to assist in her usual, calm, "I've got two little kids, this is no big deal" kind of way, which was so helpful. After a few minutes of breathing through it, willing myself not to let the dark take over (I literally can feel the dark sliding over my brain, and if I focus and breathe, I can shove it back out. Sounds bizarre, but it's true).

It took about 2 hours for the tingling and dizziness to completely go away, but I felt fine by the time I needed to drive my car.

Now that this has happened at least 7 times since November, I can see the pattern emerge - on the days when the following are true, I'm far more likely to experience this:
  • Not enough sleep the night before - either I stayed up too late or had another bout of insomnia
  • A lot of caffeine - kind of necessary, when the above is true
  • More stress than usual - tighter deadlines, a challenge out of left field, realizing I made a mistake, tight budget, could be a million things
I can't do a heck of a lot about the stress, because it will always exist in one form or another. At least I've got good stress in my job now, vs. the soul-crushing hell I had before.

I can definitely try to sleep better - I take melatonin most nights because it keeps me from waking dozens of times during the night. I'm usually trying to sleep by 9 or 10, which is plenty of time to get 8 hours in. The times I get in trouble there are the nights when I haven't seen Nigel for anything more than a goodbye kiss in several days, and we happen to have the night off together. Often, we'll talk or play music or watch bad TV until we realize it's way too late for me to be awake, but it's always hard to shut down that time together for the sake of sleeping.

The caffeine is probably the biggest area I can change. I can cut out the Redbull entirely - currently, I drink one in the morning, maybe 4 days a week. I'll also drink one if I'm going to be out with Nigel at a gig until a ludicrous time of the morning with a long drive home afterward. I also usually have one cup of coffee at work, none on the weekends. I'm not into pop or tea or anything else, really.

So maybe I stick with coffee, but only one cup in the morning, and nothing but water afterwards. On the mornings when I'm feeling especially tired, thus most likely to need the caffeine, I'll grab something else instead - decaf tea or one of those Naked green monster things instead.

I'll probably still need the Redbull for late-night gigs in Hollywood, but I can get the tiny ones and only if absolutely necessary.

So yeah, that was not fun yesterday - I was starting to think it was completely gone, that the symptoms were exclusive to my former employment and had vanished off to Hades from whence they came. But, no.

Apparently, I'm a delicate little flower who must be very careful not get the vapours.

Fuck.

Friday, August 29, 2014

At least he didn't ask when my baby is due

There's an Indian man in my office building whom I occasionally run into in the elevator, or while smoking outside. I don't know who he is or what he does, but he's incredibly friendly and always inquires after my workload, my progress with training and client issues.

I saw him this morning, and he asked about my overall comfort level regarding my knowledge of the complicated job that I do. I told him I'm at about 25%, which sounds terrible, but isn't far from what is expected - when I was hired, they told me point-blank it would take 3 to 4 years before I am really comfortable with the position and everything it entails.

Then he asked how long I've been here, and I told him a little over a year, but that I was out on leave for several months of that year, so I'm probably a little behind where I *should* be, and it's getting a little better every week. 

Up to this point, the man's questions seemed perfectly normal. This is the kind of office banter that happens between two people who don't know each other very well, once the topics of traffic and weather have been exhausted. If the people are particularly good at nonsense chatting, they'll remember things from the previous conversation and ask about the status of those things (which he was doing, in this case.)

But then he asked me if my leave of absence was due to a psychological disorder or a physical disorder.

Who...asks that kind of thing, especially of a person whose name they do not even know? I was floored.

In general, I'm a big advocate of discussing mental health. I think it's a very important subject, not only to me, but to millions of people and the family of those people. If someone asked me the same question at a party, I would have told them the truth, although the level of detail would depend upon the context of the conversation and how well I knew the person.

I lied to this man and told him it was a physical condition, and his face appeared to relax a little bit.

Which means now I wish I'd told him I was locked in a psychiatric ward because I was a danger to society and capable of anything, but now I'm medicated and monitored 24 hours a day, so he shouldn't be too concerned.

That reaction would have been priceless.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shock-free

It started on Friday night with a sore throat, and by Sunday night, I felt like death.

I knew it wasn't the flu because I get shots every year and my fever wasn't high enough. It felt like an upper respiratory infection, which is pretty common for me. Pneumonia as a child and smoking as an adult often results in walking pneumonia or bronchitis, and I know what those feel like.

Side note: When I had pneumonia as a child, it was the most terrifying experience of my life. I could not breathe without stabbing pain in my lungs, except when I was sleeping, which was about 23 hours of the day. I could feel myself drowning. Rather than take me to the doctor, my mother physically dressed me (I was too weak to sit up, let alone get dressed), then took me to CHURCH and had people lay their hands on me to pray for my healing. In response, I threw up my orange popsicle and passed out. When she realized I wasn't miraculously healed, my mother waited 12 hours for urgent care to open so it would cost less to have me treated. It was hell.

Flach forward to now: On Monday morning, I dragged myself out of bed and went to the closest Minute Clinic, an establishment I can't recommend highly enough.The biggest issue I've had over the many visits (colds, sinus infections, shingles) was a long wait time because I wasn't the only sick person in town on those days.

This time, however, the Minute Clinic network server was acting up. It took four nurses, an IT guy, and three reboots to be able to check in and be seen. Not a big deal - god knows computers wreck my day at least once a week - but I was already weak, dizzy and wanting to crawl back into bed.

Finally, I was able to be seen by a nurse practitioner, who asked all of the standard questions, including when was the first day of my last period. I NEVER remember this information. I always try to think back to the last messy sex and do backwards math. It's basically just a guess, but I figure it's not all that important unless I'm being tested for pregnancy.

This time, I estimated 10 days, and the nurse looked up sharply and urgently asked, "Do you use tampons?"

I do.

Then she asked, "Have you heard of toxic shock syndrome? You didn't 'forget' something in there, did you?"

And then I panicked and died right there inside CVS Pharmacy. Because I have been terrified of TSS for as long as I've known what a tampon is. The risk of TSS is pretty darn low, but man do they ever harp on that issue to terrified/embarrassed 11 year-olds when they get their first period.

Fortunately, the nurse realized that my symptoms (aside from fever and flushed face) did not equal You Have Forgotten a Tampon Within Your Canals, and moved along to ultimately diagnose bronchitis and an ear infection.

I thought it was a little irresponsible of this nurse to TERRIFY me, even briefly, over something that was very clearly not the problem.

But I did go directly home and lock myself in the bathroom and twist my body around until I was able to make sure that my lady-den was, indeed, vacant.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Glossy

At this point in my life, I can't help but wonder what might have been different. I've disappointed so many people, most of all myself, and sometimes it's embarrassing just crawling out of bed in the morning. Like I expect people to be shocked I can even show my face anymore.

I remember that feeling as a kid, the one where you project what you think might be your future, play it in your head like a black and white movie or, in my case, acted it out in the woods beside my house, and it always went something like:

Grow up

Make money

Get married

Have children

Eat all of the candy you want

In the faaaaar distance, know what it's like to be old

Adulthood always had this glossy sheen in my mind. It would be magical in the sense that I could stay up as late as I wanted. It was desirable in the way that I craved the start of summer vacation. It would be fulfilling because, well, it fucking had to be, right?

My reality went something like:

Fall in love too young, and without really knowing what love meant

Marrying out of a feeling of duty, knowing it would end quickly

Fall in love again, this time mistaking ultimate companionship for ultimate passion

Lose a very wanted pregnancy, and with it, a part of my heart forever

Divorce a second time

Make unfortunate sexual choices

Make unfortunate monetary choices

Use alcohol as a crutch until it became an addiction instead

Daydream about suicide for years before attempting it

Every day now, I wake up and get out of bed. I drive in traffic and go to work. I worry about the debt I have. I worry about the dental appointment I keep forgetting to schedule. I try not to think about the family member who doesn't care for my company. I wonder if my dad still loses sleep worrying about what I'll do next. I consider whether I'll ever want a relationship with my mother. I try to find god. I drive home in traffic and spend the evening contemplating domestic duties, then try to sleep, with the guilt of those unfinished chores hovering over me.

But now I have a partner in all of the banalities of adult life. Someone whose presence makes me forget sometimes just how tedious life can be. Whose laugh reminds me that there is joy mixed in with all of the bullshit, humor in the painful memories. Someone who holds my hand when it's too hard to keep going, and that grip distracts me long enough to get to the next little crest, where I can see a little more of the light in the sky, and I think maybe the next stretch of path isn't so impossible.

Someone for whom it's worth going on, even when that little girl inside of me doesn't want to be a grownup anymore.

Someone who helps to make this life glossy in the way I always hoped it would be.

Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm doing it wrong



For those of you who have spent any significant period of time working in a cubicle farm, you know that the printer is the life-blood of the office. 

If the printer jams (or god forbid it breaks and needs a service call), you might as well just go home. There’s no reason to pretend everything is fine, because the world is ending. We’re all going to die.

Fixing the issue requires following a complicated set of screen-prompted steps, opening trays and doors, craning my neck to spot the offending pages, and trying to yank them out in one piece. If the paper rips in half, you’re fucked. You can’t reach it – I’ve tried shoving my hand into the wheels to fish out a corner piece, and it never works. 

There’s always one person in the office that is considered the Printer Whisperer. That person seems to know something is wrong before anything is technically wrong. They can find jammed pages that fourteen other bewildered people didn’t see. They know how to change the weird toner tubes without getting blue dust all over the ceiling. 

I* walked up to our shared printer the other day and noticed that the orange warning light was blinking, and that my pages had not printed before the !!ORANGE!! doom began. This is never a good sign. Never. 

Imagine my relief when I realized the paper tray was empty. Even this stupid monkey can fix an empty paper tray. 

I ripped open the wrapper on a new ream of paper and flopped the pile down into the tray. I was about to close the drawer and go along my merry way when the Printer Whisperer appeared directly behind me and said, “You put the paper in upside down.”

Just…what? Think about that for a second. I put a stack of 8.5” by 11” standard copy paper…upside down? 

I thought she was joking, but one look at her face told me that she was disproportionately serious about the matter.

It will jam if you put it in that way.” 

Then the Printer Whisperer took out the stack of paper, flipped it over, and put it back into the drawer. And walked away. 

I still don’t really understand what happened, except now I’m trying to remember how I opened that package and how I removed the stack so I can figure out WHICH WAY IS UP.  

*This isn’t really my story. It happened to a friend whom I work with, and the moment she told me, I knew I was going to steal this story. Because WHAT THE FUCK. Only in an office. It’s almost as good as the passive aggressive signs people hang when someone wears cologne and someone else doesn’t like when people wear cologne, but that person takes off her shoes all the time and her feet look like voles. With talons.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

PCH and the 710

There's all kinds of missing pieces in the flow of my blogging right now, but I'll back-fill the story later. Let's just pretend that you already knew that Nigel and I fell madly in love in a Japanese garden in Van Nuys and then moved into a tiny studio together in Long Beach.

Seven weeks after we met for the first time. And let's pretend that making such a move is not insane.

We chose to live in Long Beach because, Nigel assured me, it was "kind of in the middle" of our respective places of employment, which were about 55 miles apart. Had I bothered to fact-check him, I would have realized that I was moving 16 miles from my work, but he was moving 40 miles from his. Which means he either really liked* me, or he just really wanted 24/7 access to sex.

*I like to assume he still likes me.

Since that move in mid-March, I've tried to figure out an accurate way to describe our new neighborhood. The easy explanation is that we live in the ghetto.

It's not quite that simplistic though, because 1) Los Angeles has many areas that are far worse than ours, and 2) despite the inherent danger, it's also pretty awesome.

We're very close to the beach (and like many here, we almost never bother to take advantage of the beach proximity), and we're very close to the freeways, which is one of the first things I learned upon moving to California. Freeway access is bigger than Jesus here.

It took a couple of months for me to figure out how to handle the constant barrage of requests from the homeless people I encounter. They are everywhere. I see them so often that I've observed that the ones with shopping carts are considered second class citizens to those who use alternate luggage totes, such as baby strollers. I've seen them argue over which cart belongs to which person, and I can't say I blame them, because those carts all look the same to me.

Nigel and I have "adopted" one of the baby stroller ladies whom we just call Our Homeless Lady. She sleeps in the same alcove almost every night, and we often have to park near her on street sweeping nights when parking nearer our house is occupied. One nights we don't see her, we always wonder if she's okay.

Once, we attempted to give her a whole pizza that was left over from a dinner out, and she Lost. Her. Shit.

"No no no no no. Uh uh. I ain't takin' dat pizza," she said to me. "If it was just you, I'd take it. But you wit dat maaaaan of yours, so nuh uh. No."

I think I responded with, "It's...it's just a pizza," but she was not interested.

Nigel was on the other side of the street, but she saw him, and his proximity implied some kind of danger. We assume it's due to her part time job as (what appears to be) a prostitute, but I've never been able to sort out why taking our pizza was any more likely to get her arrested than the subsequent times I've seen her hanging into the passenger side windows of cars in the middle of the night.

(Speaking of prostitution, I learned a very important lesson at about 1:30 in the morning while walking about 3/4 of a mile from where I parked to where we live. I was solicited for the very same activity by two different cars on that walk, and immediately determined that walking alone at that time is never wise, but especially on nights when I'm dressed up like a groupie-whore after one of Nigel's gigs. Bad idea.)

Another time, I gave a woman some money and she promptly bought booze (and nothing else). Since that time, I usually keep a case of water in my car and hand those out when people ask me for money. If I'm without my water bottles, I tell them I don't have any cash, just my debit card. That usually works, although sometimes they ask me to go get cash out of an ATM.

Someone approached me a few weeks ago asking for assistance with a court fee that was preventing her from getting custody of her children - it was all a big misunderstanding, she explained, but it had to be paid, so she was hustling in the parking lot of the 99 Cent Store. She didn't accept my water bottle that day

At first, my instinct was to give money to everyone who asked, but I quickly realized I was outnumbered and the requests come almost daily, and also that I'm always broke and can't afford to support other people, so I had to shut that instinct down.

Generally they are friendly. Sometimes they are clearly strung out or insane, and those I try to avoid all together because they scare me. I see a little bit of myself in the crazy ones, and I know that they could be...less than safe to interact with. Sometimes we see someone with a cart and a few aluminum cans, but an entire pharmacy's worth of prescription bottles lined up on the sidewalk beside them. Sometimes we mistake people as homeless and crazy, who are really just in need of a shower.

There are frequent street fights, frequent emergency vehicle sirens, and frequent helicopter-lead man hunts. One week we heard nothing but car alarms all night long, every night.

In addition to the Outside Neighbors, as I think of them, we have the Inside Neighbors. Our place is the center unit of a triplex: on one side is a large, rotating cast of Mexican immigrants with so many children, I can't keep track of which kid belongs to which adult. That family just welcomed a newborn baby boy, and it turns out the baby's father is plays Latin pop guitar on the side and speaks several languages. Currently, he's taking lessons in Italian.

On the other side live two ex-Marines and one of their wives. They are the ones we interact with most, and they are very nice. And loud. Very loud. They scream at each other a lot, which is never fun to listen to, but is especially alarming now that we've become aware of the ARSENAL of weapons they own. I'm always praying their fights don't escalate into gun battles because our shared walls have the strength of a wet paper towel.

They are also music lovers, and they *scree* when Nigel gets out his guitar and lets them make requests. We've shared several nights of music and chatter, and those moments make me incredibly happy. All we're missing is the bonfire.

Our unit itself is (by guesstimate only) about 450 square feet, and consists of one long, skinny room which serves as bedroom, living room and dining room, as well as a small closet, small bathroom, and microscopic kitchen. It is not possible to have company because there is nowhere for them to sit. Over the months, we've come to realize our little place is almost everything we could ever want.

The hardest part of getting used to this living arrangement has been that our walls are incredibly thin and our window practically touches the public sidewalk, and...well...Nigel and I like each other very much. So occasionally I find myself wondering if we're making inappropriate sounds that are audible to those around us.

Then I realize we have neither screaming children nor screaming adults, so if our neighbors don't appreciate our happy noises, they can go fuck themselves.